My Slovakian friend and I have recently been to a relatively unknown Malaysian city on Borneo Island called Miri. This destination, sitting at the southern border of Brunei in Sarawak, was a random pick flying out of Johor Bahru’s Senai Airport – as a last-minute effort to be out of Singapore over a long weekend, especially that all flights at Changi have become ridiculously expensive.
Little did we know that for only about 631.55 MYR / 200 SGD / 124.28 EUR for each of us, we would enter the biggest cavern of our lives (by far), witness a spectacular sunset and sunrise, and spoil ourselves with a stunning, long beach under cerulean skies.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on why you would want to come to Miri:
People who are familiar with Miri easily associate it with Gunung Mulu National Park, which features the world’s biggest caves in terms of land area, and The Pinnacles Trail at Mount Mulu, sitting above it. This was the only thing we had on our to-do list, which we’ve only learned after we have booked our flights.
However, upon landing at Miri’s airport, a lady informed us that the famous national park requires another flight and more time than we can afford. Having faced such a desperate situation, we were left wondering what else we could do in this city we barely know. And so, an intense Googling followed, which eventually forced us to discover more and be impressed about Miri.
FLY CHEAP FROM SINGAPORE TO MIRI
We booked return flights to Miri with AirAsia from Johor Bahru’s Senai Airport. We originally intended to fly from Singapore, but since we waited until the last week prior to the long weekend to book our flights, the prices of fights already skyrocketed and became out of reach for us.
Here’s how we travelled to Miri from Singapore after booking our cheap flights:
- From the Singapore CBD, we took a train to Kranji MRT station on the North-South line. Travel time was around 45 minutes.
- From Kranji MRT station, we walked over the pedestrian bridge and took the #170 bus to go to Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A more straightforward way to reach Senai Airport from the Johor border is to take a bus from JB Sentral mall. However, since our flight was scheduled early in the following morning, we decided to leave Singapore the night before and stayed at Double K Hostel, a cheap and decent hostel in Johor Bahru conveniently located near the city’s main bus terminal. We didn’t want to take the risk of missing our early flight as the traffic situation at the border sometimes can be unpredictable. From the border, it took us about an hour to reach Larkin.
- From Larkin Bus Terminal, we took an Über taxi to Senai Airport. The more straightforward way to reach Senai Airport is to take a bus from JB Sentral. This cost us about 24 MYR / 7.70 SGD / 4.79 EUR.
- What to do in Senai Airport. Johor Bahru’s Senai Airport offers plenty of food and beverage options to travellers waiting for their flight. Fast food restaurant chains such as KFC, Subway, O’Briens and Marrybrown are there for a quick tummy fix, as well as many coffee shops, including Starbucks. Banking services and specialty shops are also available for those who want to do some last-minute shopping. As budget travellers, we generally shun these, but they’re good to have.
- Flight from Senai Airport to Miri, Malaysia. The flight from Johor Bahru to Miri took 1 hour and 55 minutes.
WHAT TO DO IN MIRI
From Miri Airport, we headed straight to the city centre, to Dillenia Guest House, a hostel located just about 10 KM nearby the Permaisuri Imperial City Mall. We had a pleasant stay in this hostel throughout our 3 days 2 nights trip. Thanks to its nice owners.
Here are the things we’ve done in Miri.
- Seeing the Seahorse Statue and the Tanjong Lobang Beach. On our first day, we decided to acquaint ourselves with the city, locally known as the site of Malaysia’s first oil well and oil refinery. We walked through the rustic streets and ended up on a random beach along Jalan Marina Utama road and Marina Park. Shortly, we continued our strut through Jalan Bandaraya, until we reached the iconic Seahorse Statue of Miri. Here, we enjoyed a fantastic view of the ocean and basked in the very relaxed atmosphere. This got us excited on our first day. After relishing some local street food and the sea breeze for 3 hours, we continued our strut down to Tanjong Lobang Beach and witnessed a splendid, fiery sunset event on the horizon of South China Sea.
- Entering our biggest cave down the abyss at Niah Caves. We were so glad to find out that there’s another cave we could go near Miri. Located 3 hours away south from the city, we took a city bus to navigate ourselves to the bus terminal and took another bus to Niah Junction. Here, we went to the nearby Batu Niah Food Centre for a quick, MYR 6 lunch break before hiring a car to the Taman Negara Niah, where the caves are. We arrived at midday and right away started our trek on a boardwalk which led us deep into the tropical jungle.
- Watching a breathtaking sunrise at Canada Hill and relaxing on Luak Esplanade beach right after. On our last day in Miri, we took an Uber taxi to Luak Esplanade after watching a fabulous sunrise at Canada Hill. A long, empty beach welcomed us upon our arrival. I was fascinated just how ‘blue’ everything was. Its length reminded me of the beaches in Sydney, sans the big waves and crowd.